Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ABC Summer Weekly Report (Early): P and M

This is a sad, sad confession, but the reason my last two ABC Summer reports have not had accompanying photos -- which is really just neglectful and horrible -- is because a.) our old camera, the one I knew how to operate, broke when Genevieve dropped it on the kitchen floor; b.) our other camera is technically my husband's and the batteries are dead and I can't figure out how to open the battery compartment or really even where the battery compartment is, but I only entertain such thoughts when my husband is not at home and then forget all about it when he's around to show me; c.) so I've been using my new(ish) iPhone to take photos recently (some great ones too! shaving cream painting, and strawberry picking! a giant tub of strawberries! our farm!); d.) only I don't know how to get photos off my iPhone and onto the computer yet.

Sigh.

Moving on.

No, it's not the end of the week yet, but we leave tomorrow on a family trip and therefore I will likely not have time or opportunity to do this on Friday. So, just know that this list is artificially shortened. Also know that we have full-time house-sitters with a large, intimidating dog and a very good town police force if you were considering breaking into our house while we're gone.

P

went on Picnics
went to the Pool
went to the Park
Picked strawberries
bought Popcorn at our town's outdoor Popcorn cart

M

traveled to Michigan

Sorry, this week is a little low-achieving. It's a short week; I've been busy with physical therapy (hey! P is for Physical therapy! ha.) and planning for the trip and all that. If you're doing the ABC Summer too and have yet to get to P, I suggest making homemade Popsicles and eating them on your front Porch or your Patio, something we didn't get to this week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Love You, Chris! (I Swear I'm Not a Stalker.)

So yesterday my daughters were outside playing with their neighbor friend when she apparently decided it would be a good idea to tell them that old "Bloody Mary" ghost story. Mmm-hmmm. Remember that one from when you were a kid? Something about a bloody disembodied head appearing in the mirror if you look into it? That's nice. MY DAUGHTERS ARE BARELY-SEVEN AND ALMOST-FIVE.

Sure, I'd love to spend the rest of the day trying to convince my children that stories like that are pure nonsense and nothing scary is lurking in the bathroom mirror or anywhere else. Thank you, eight-year-old neighbor girl.

Sigh.

I seemed to remember a local fellow-mom friend of mine having this same experience with her daughter not that long ago, but I could not remember who it was. Tanya? Amy? I couldn't remember. Later, I was on Facebook and I wrote about it: "Who was it that posted on here last year about an older child telling her daughter the Bloody Mary story and scaring her half to death? Just happened here!"

No one commented that it had been them, although plenty of fellow parents were sympathetic and empathically enraged. Parents know that bedtime is challenging enough without ghost stories, people.

Many hours later I realized who it was who'd had her little daughter terrified by Bloody Mary. It was Chris, at Notes From the Trenches.

Mmm-hmmm.

Me: mistaking Internet rock-stars for personal friends since 2006.

I'm such a dork.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind, Clearly.

So the other day my daughters had to accompany me to a physical therapy appointment. (I'm still an injured, sidelined runner, and after six weeks, this makes me want to cry, so don't ask me about it.) They were quite well-behaved, which wasn't a big surprise. I knew they would be, and they knew I expected them to be.

My physical therapist is an outgoing, fun woman with teenage kids, so she knew just how to talk to the girls. It was funny, listening to their conversation while I was on the exam table being pushed and prodded. First, the therapist mistook them for Irish twins. (I get that a lot.) This is particularly amusing now that, for a short time, their age numbers are three years apart. (They are actually 26 months apart, but very close to the same size.)

Then, later on, the girls started talking about being a physical therapist, what it's like, what she was doing to me, etc. My PT said, "Do you think you might be a physical therapist when you grow up?" In our house, I've generally heard "ballerina," "psychologist," "writer," and "mom" as the future-career choices.

But Genevieve blurted out, serious as can be, "I'm going to be a folk singer."

I just about fell off the table. Folk singer! What the hell? Hilarious.

I'll be anxiously awaiting her album of Pete Seeger covers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

ABC Summer Weekly Report: S and B

Here's what we did this week for S and B of our ABC Summer. (For the lowdown on what this is all about, and why we're not going in alphabetical order, go here.)

S

went Swimming (brrrrr....)
did Shaving-cream finger-painting (huge success, by the way)
made Sandwich Shapes (cutting sandwiches into cute shapes with cookie cutters for lunch one day)
checked out library books on Snakes and Sea otters
went Strawberry picking

B

Baked Brownies
Baked Banana Bread (awesome recipe here; uses all whole-wheat flour and yet is tender and moist and delicious in every way and did I mention, there is chocolate?)
rode Bikes
checked out library books on Bears, Baboons and Buffalo
made Bead jewelry
visited the Bakery

We had hoped to go to the Beach this week too, but most of the week was rainy and about 65 degrees, so that plan was tabled.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Make No Claims to Good Grooming Over Here.

Public school got out two weeks ago and I don't think my daughters have brushed their hair since. Now that's summer vacation, people!

The One About Vacations.

Here's the other thing about family vacations, you all. And I'm not writing this as an argument with my husband, but as a topic of objective discussion on gender studies, so read on. I'm honestly curious what people think about this division of moms' vs. dads' duties, and if this is the way it rolls in your household or not.

When families go on "vacation," in general, the dad is going on vacation. He is leaving his day-to-day work, possibly packing his own suitcase but in some households perhaps not even that, and going somewhere to have fun and relax.

The mom is in no way having a vacation. Not only is she not leaving any of her work duties behind, but her work duties arguably often become more difficult than ever, because a.) the children have to sleep in unfamiliar environments, which, I don't know, maybe is absolutely nothing to your children and maybe your children will conk out in a corner on a pile of coats during a party at someone else's house, but that's not the case with mine, and if you do have a good sleeper like the former description, you will never EVER know what it's like to bring sleep-challenged children somewhere else and then try to get them to sleep there; b.) the children do not have access to their usual amount of toys, games, and distractions with which to entertain themselves (which, admittedly, is not a problem if your "vacation" is somewhere fun like Disney or Hawaii or a water park, but -- ha! laughing -- those are not our vacations); c.) the children get all crazy-off-their-schedule and cranky and difficult (again: maybe your children do not operate on a schedule. Maybe you're all spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, what? dinner's not till 7? that's no problem! my kids don't mind! kind of parents, but hahahahaha oh so funny. not the case here; and d.) Mom does not have access to her own vodka.

Kidding! I meant, bottle of wine.

Or, no, I meant, prescription medication. No, wait! You can bring that.

I meant, her own bedroom with a closing, locking door and a television on which to watch the final season of "Friday Night Lights."

The dad spends the week before vacation conducting his daily job and then, for the most part, gets into the car and goes. Fun! Carefree-ness! Vacation!

The mom spends the week beforehand arranging cat- and house-sitting, stopping the mail and newspaper, figuring out which outdoor plants can go 5 days without watering, planning for garbage pick-up arrangements, making written packing lists for each child and herself, making sure everyone has their medications refilled, buying any last-minute gear (oops! she grew out of her swimsuit! or, yikes, I think she'll need a hoodie that fits because it gets cold there), packing suitcases, buying picnic/car-friendly food and snacks and packing snacks and picnic lunches for the road, all while simultaneously conducting her normal, daily job duties. And, on the morning of departure, she double-checks everyone's suitcases and turns out the lights and unplugs the electronics and pulls the blinds and puts blankets on the furniture so the cat doesn't ruin it during her unsupervised time home alone. And then gets into the car and goes. Fun. Carefree. Vacation. Woo-hoo.

I am reminded, naturally, of this post by Chris at Notes From the Trenches. Then again, she has seven children. Which makes my job look pretty easy. Uh. Moving on!

I'm not whining about how sucky my life is. I love my life. I'm just pointing out why, unless the "vacation" is somewhere truly enjoyable and friendly and perhaps even exciting -- and perhaps even then -- the mom might feel significantly more burdened by a family "vacation" than does the dad, who gets to look forward to, well, a vacation. And if the vacation involves suffering, such as via a 10-hour one-way car trip with two small children who don't sleep in the car and who habitually ask "when will we get there?" at about the time you drive past the gas station on the corner 2 miles from your house, not to mention any other sorts of ridiculousness that may be related to the vacation, ahem, well then the mom is not going to be super thrilled about the "vacation."*

So. Are there any dads out there who take care of all the vacation prep? I'd be curious to know. Because right now my belief is that "vacations" will start being vacations at about the time the children go to college.

(*Don't leave any comments about how moms should just be happy anyway and do it for the kids and the sake of their experiences. Obviously, moms DO do it for the sake of the kids and their experiences, every time. If there's one thing you don't have to tell a mom to do, it's to put their happiness and their needs behind that of their children. My point is that there are objective reasons why vacations may not be a barrel of fun if you're the mom, and that it's completely justified to feel that way if you're the mom. And I realize the idea of moms being justified in voicing their displeasure with the inequities of their positions makes some people very upset and nervous, so much so that their main reaction is to just criticize the moms by calling them negative-Nellie complainers and admonishing them that they should really be thankful they're alive and counting their blessings because every day of life is a precious gift and all that. I understand it's difficult for some people to tolerate any sort of expressed dissatisfaction with anything, particularly from moms. But it's still okay for moms to do it.)

Get Ready For Fall

My daughter just asked me if it is autumn now. It is still raining here and today the high temperature is predicted to be 60 degrees. THE HIGH, people! It's so cold right now that when I stepped outside to check on my flowerpots, I had to put on a hoodie over my pajamas.

Hmmm. I fear for our family pool pass.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pick Your Battles, Yo.

Christopher and I are currently (not right at this moment, I mean, just in general) experiencing a difference of opinion regarding our upcoming family trip to Michigan. As in, he's all, Suck it up and change your attitude! and I'm all, Driving 10 hours each way with two small children who have never slept more than five minutes in the car and no I'm not exaggerating in any way shape or form while leaving our elderly cat at home to puke, pee, and poop all over our carpet for five days and then arriving at our destination to socialize with people who actively dislike me is not my idea of fun.

So given all that, I could not be happier to see this post by The Bloggess earlier today, which a friend of mine linked to on Facebook and which made me laugh harder than quite possibly anything ever has, ever, in the history of anything. And I know you're going to be all, Waah, I hate going to links, forget it who has time, I'm not gonna bother. But I will warn you: if you skip reading about the five-foot-tall metal chicken, and especially seeing THE PHOTO OF THE CHICKEN ON THE DOORSTEP OMG HAVE NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD, you will be living a sad, sorry life, and I feel bad for you.

Meanwhile, I keep re-reading it because it makes me laugh at a time when I mainly want to ingest pharmaceuticals and possibly punch something.

(p.s. Our trip is not for over a week so there is plenty of time for our plans to change and/or for me to procure a giant metal chicken. I'm just saying.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Funny Girl


Everyone who reads this blog knows that my youngest, Genevieve, who turns five in August, is remarkable in many ways. Remarkable in how many nights in a row she can cry and scream at bedtime (years' worth); remarkable in how old she could get before finally sleeping through the night on a regular basis (four years old); remarkable in how fully she can appear sweet and compliant at all times to members of the outside world, while at home she's the kind of child who routinely makes you want to tear out your hair and guzzle a bottle of wine; remarkable in how crazy-intelligent she is (reading at age three, reading chapter books for 8- to 12-year-olds at age four, writing entire stories by herself in preschool, with printing that is better than many first-graders').

But I don't know if I've ever made clear how remarkable her sense of humor is. She's really funny, and not just in the ha-ha-little-kids-are-funny kind of way. She actually makes sly little jokes; she knows what she's doing. She's got a great sense of humor.

She also has this tendency -- as do many children her age, of course -- to immediately choose to sleep with whatever new toy or treasure has entered her life. She's got her reliable old scrap of blankie, and for years she slept with her P.J. Bear, but she regularly shakes things up. When she gets a new stuffed animal from the Easter bunny or in the dollar section at Target, she says, "I love him! I'm going to sleep with him from now on." Anything that catches her fancy, she wants to sleep with. (Out of context, that sentence would be alarming.)

Which is why not long ago Genevieve began this little string of jokes, revolving around what she likes to sleep with. Out of the blue at dinner one night, completely straight-faced, she said, "I love this fork. I'm going to sleep with it from now on." Totally deadpan, as we all cracked up. Looking at us slyly. "I loooove olives; I'm going to sleep with this olive," she sighed. And another day, brushing eraser dust from the table, "I love eraser dust. I'm going to sleep with this eraser dust from now on." And yesterday, "I'm going to sleep with that crack in the computer."

Each time, I just about die laughing, which of course is why she continues. But she's got excellent comic timing and great delivery; how can I not?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Faulty Logic

Driving into the Target parking lot, earlier today:

Genevieve: Hey! There's a yellow [VW] Beetle!

Julia: I've seen that car here before.

Me: Yeah, me too! In fact, I see that car every time I come to Target. That car is here REALLY often.

[pause...]


Me: It must be the car of a Target worker.

Because what other explanation could there be for the fact that the yellow VW Beetle is at Target SO INCREDIBLY OFTEN? As in, just as often as I AM?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daisy Canopies

A couple of weeks ago my daughters' got their newly redecorated bedroom, with new beds and other wonderful girly delights. Miraculously, it only took until now for us to hang the daisy canopies above their beds.

Sorry the photos below are so dark. That's because I am living in hell, where it is cloudy, dreary, rainy, and cool for approximately 8 out of every 10 summer days and even at 11 in the morning the inside of your house looks like late afternoon in January.

Behold:





I haven't yet re-hung the wall decor that goes between their beds. Give me another couple of weeks for that.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ABC Summer Weekly Report: H and D

Modeling self-designed t-shirts

If you need to get up to speed, here is an explanation of our ABC Summer, the summer-long project I am doing with my daughters this year. (Note: "summer-long project" makes it sound very difficult and complicated, but in fact there is nothing remotely complicated about it.)

In case you'd like to use these ideas for your own summer, here's a list of what we did for "H" and "D" this week. Note that some activities got rained out and did not make the list. Also that we did plenty of other things not alphabet-related. And, notice that these are not big-deal, hard-to-plan-or-execute activities. They're just things you do with your kids anyway. The only difference is that I did them during a particular week.

H
went on a Hike
played Hopscotch
did Hula Hoops
had a Hot dog dinner
checked out a book on Horses from the library
made Haystacks (chocolate-chow-mein-noodle treats; recipe below; very easy for kids)

D
Drew Dinosaurs
checked out a book on Ducklings from the library
had a hot Dog Dinner
had a Dolly tea party
made and wore Design-Your-Own t-shirts with fabric markers

Doll tea party (the real girls were at the table)


Peanut Haystacks

makes 24
(we made 2 batches, 1 each with semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips)

Ingredients:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips
1 T. peanut butter (we used sugar-free, all-natural)
1 cup crunchy chow-mein noodles (in the cellophane bag at the grocery store)
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts

Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with wax or parchment paper. Put chocolate or butterscotch chips in a medium to large microwaveable mixing bowl. Add peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute. Take out and stir, checking to see if chips are melting. If not, put back in microwave for 15 more seconds. Take out and stir until totally melted and smooth.

Add chow mein noodles and peanuts, stir to coat everything well. With a teaspoon, scoop up small amounts of mixture and drop on lined baking sheets, a couple of inches apart. Let sit at room temperature or in the fridge until hard and set. Store in a well-sealed Tupperware container in the refrigerator.

Come Home to Roost

So we've had this blank cream-colored wall (really, part of a wall) in the corner of our living room for five and a half years. It's an awkward corner, which explains why it's been blank all this time. It's on one side of the fireplace. On the other side of the fireplace are tall bookcases that fill up the matching corner, but we don't have enough tall bookcases to make the two sides matching and symmetrical. The previous owner had a tall entertainment unit in the blank corner, which makes perfect sense, but we don't have (or particularly want) a tall entertainment unit. The fireplace juts out on the middle section of the wall; I painted the jutting-out fireplace part of the wall a dark cranberry red, with the cream on either side.

But the wall sat empty and awkward-looking. Sue me; I'm no decorator.

And then Julia came home on the last day of 1st grade with a paper shopping bag filled with her artwork--the many art projects which had been hanging on the walls of the 1st grade hallway, or in the art room, and were now freed to go home with their creators.

And a big red bird was among the treasures. A dark red bird. A gorgeous, breathtaking, cranberry red bird.

And so I framed it.



And then hung it on the wall next to the fireplace.



As my friend Lori said, "It's like the wall was just WAITING for the bird!"

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Love the Internet.

So, yesterday my fellow-mom, fellow-blogger, neighbor Angel was Facebooking about making this recipe for iced coffee from the Pioneer Woman's website. And so naturally I went crazy and pumped her for details on Facebook and got all super-excited and started planning how I was going to make it too. I mean, come on, look at this! Gorgeous!


Not ten minutes later the doorbell rings, and Angel's little almost-eight-year-old daughter is standing at my door clutching a quart-sized Ball jar of iced coffee concentrate in her arms. Angel had sent her down the block to let me have a (very generous) sample of her 2-gallon batch. Which is now tucked into a shelf of my refrigerator door, making me very, very, very happy.

Unprompted doorstep delivery of a quart of delectable amazing homemade iced coffee from the Pioneer Woman's recipe. Is that a good day or what?

Why yes, I do have the best neighbor ever. (Thanks, Angel.)

The Big Reveal

I have been dying to tell you my news. You have probably grown to hate me bitterly, for telling you that my big news was coming and then failing to spill it for so long. Believe me; I wanted to spill it. But I felt like I needed to wait until things were really, truly official, and that took longer than I'd expected.

But now that I have my advance check in hand, I feel like it's probably safe to tell.

I HAVE A BOOK DEAL, YOU ALL!* Booktrope, a Seattle-based publishing company, wants to publish my Mama in Wonderland stay-at-home-mom survival guide, and a couple of weeks ago I signed with them.

Now. Wasn't that worth the wait?

*[Huge, huuuuuge thanks to Lori Culwell for her limitless help in this endeavor. Words fail.]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Conversation at the Pool

Me: Sometimes my neck hurts when I've been wearing my hat for a long time. Does that ever happen to you?

Julia: No, but sometimes my head hurts when I eat a sandwich.

Me: [.....]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lesson Learned

I don't mean to be all negative on the third day of summer vacation (uh-oh, a certain regular blog reader and mean-commenter is about to get all hot and bothered, I can feel it...), but it's been pouring rain nonstop since 3 p.m. yesterday and the girls and I had plans this morning to go on a hike, and later to visit our town square's (outdoor) old-fashioned popcorn cart and hear some outdoor music this evening.

Um. Change of plans? Also. It's only supposed to be 70 degrees today. Raining and maaaaybe 70 degrees. What, this is summer? Grumble, grumble.

Not to mention the fact that I went to the sports medicine doc last evening and found out I have a form of bursitis in my hip; that's what's been dogging me the past three weeks and made me largely unable to exercise. (The summer days! The missed runs! Sob.) Bursitis, people! Isn't that, like, something you get when you're...old?

The blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of Jillian Michaels, as far as I'm concerned, because the bursitis in my hip was triggered by a period of over-activity and over-use, and you may recall I was doing the 30 Day Shred when everything went all to hell in the able-body department. No, no, I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't stop my running schedule during the Shred and, in fact, was increasing my running mileage at the time. Ahem. I prefer to blame Jillian, the woman my daughter continues to describe as "always mad." OK, so, she whips those "Biggest Loser" contestants into admirable shape on TV and all. But clearly I am too old to do Level 3 of the Shred every day AND run 22 miles per week, including one long run on Sundays.

So, I'm off to physical therapy in an attempt to salvage my summer running. It would be nice if I could also salvage some summer weather.

Lastly, my dear faithful readers, you have NO IDEA how much I want to fill you in on my as-yet-unnamed big news. I know I gave you a tease a looong time ago, but back then I fully expected to have firm news for you within days. I'm not at liberty, yet, to spill the beans. All I can say is, I will be, soon.

So! I guess the theme of the week is definitely "Learning My Lesson." Fun times!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2nd Day of Summer

Yesterday was the first official day of summer vacation. I took my daughters to the city pool even though it was partly cloudy, super-breezy, and only about 72 degrees, because we have a family pool pass this year, and we're going to make the most of it, damnit! Who cares if you're cold! We're going to the pool anyway! You're going to swim and you're going to like it!

No, really, it ended up being very fun. The sun came out more fully, it warmed up a few degrees more, and we ran into the 12-year-old daughter of a friend, who played with my girls in the shallow end the whole time we were there, while I sat on the edge of the pool Not Getting Wet. (I don't usually Not Get Wet. I was really cold.) Holla! That was certainly a win for me. (I am considering hiring this girl as a mother's helper a couple of hours a week this summer, so I can get some writing work done.)

Today I'm taking my daughters out to lunch at a little coffee shop/cafe that we go to when they're on school vacation. It's nothing special; they get a kids' sandwich and maybe a big cookie to share, and I get an iced coffee and a salad, and truth be told, it's all overpriced. But they LOVE going there for lunch, and they've been waiting for months for me to take them again. I promised long ago that we'd go during the first week of summer vacation.

You gotta love summer. Even if your kids' idea of sleeping late is not coming out of their bedroom until the clock starts with a "6."

Monday, June 13, 2011

ABC Summer


My summers at home with my daughters have generally had some sort of a theme. Last year was the first official theme, The Summer of Fun -- a theme which is basically self-explanatory. (We did have a TON of fun.) Prior years had had sort of ad hoc, unofficial, semi-or-completely-unspoken themes. There was my Retro Mom Summer. (That was a really fun summer. My babies were barely 1 and 3, and I recall a lot of water play and stroller walks.) Before that was The Summer Stress Almost Killed Me and then The Summer Everything Sucked.

Um. Those...sucked. Sigh.

Moving on!

Welcome to our ABC Summer! Credit where credit is due: this idea is courtesy of my friend Kathy, with whom I am doing this summer-long project, along with another of our close friends. She says she got the idea from a former-teacher friend in her previous state, before she moved to MN.

The basic idea: Each week of the summer is assigned a letter (or letters, since summer isn't 26 weeks long) of the alphabet. During that week, we plan and do a bunch of activities that start with that particular letter. These activities can be big or small; requiring planning or requiring nothing more than, say, a box of sidewalk chalk or a jump rope; stuff we would normally do anyway (the pool, the park, the farm...) or stuff that isn't an every-day occurrence and that we're doing specifically for this project.

The letters for each week do not go in alphabetical order, because certain events that must occur at certain times of the summer (4th of July celebrations, for instance, or summer soccer) are perfect opportunities to match up activities with letters. So, for example, we may put "S" in June, for Strawberry-picking, and assign "B" to a typically-hot week so we can go to the Beach.

The girls will each have their own ABC Summer binder, with a page for each letter, where they will write, draw, and otherwise record information about the activities we did that week for the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I'll (try to) take and print photos of what we do, to paste onto the pages too. At the end of Summer 2011, we'll have two complete memory books of how we filled our days and weeks with ABC-themed fun.

A few caveats: We won't be doing a big planned ABC activity every day, by any means. We have plenty of unstructured time for lazing around. Also, we'll be doing plenty of other activities each week that don't fit in with the assigned letter. For example, we'll go to the pool every week, not just during the week labeled "P." The idea is just to liven up and fill in our usual summer fun with a novel, planful approach to the weeks.

This week is "D" and "H." We plan to: play Hopscotch; have a Hot Dog Dinner; go on a nature Hike in a nearby marsh; Dance at our town's weekly outdoor music event; make Haystacks (those chocolate/butterscotch and crispy chow mein noodle treats); Hula Hoop; and check out books on Dogs, Dinosaurs, and Horses at the library.

This is surely a whole lot better than the Summer Everything Sucked, wouldn't you say?

Do you want to come along for the ride? You could do the ABC Summer too!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good News #1

Guess what, you all? Mama in Wonderland has been accepted into the BlogHer Publishing Network! That means it's going to be an official BlogHer blog, promoted on BlogHer's directory, benefiting from BlogHer's ad revenue stream, and enjoying the fruits of BlogHer's EXTENSIVE readership. As in, 26 million women per month visit BlogHer.

Don't tell me you don't know about BlogHer. It's the most comprehensive and widely-read guide to the latest news, trends, and conversations among women in social media -- where it's at, social-media-wise, if you're a woman and a blogger, or if you enjoy reading blogs by women (on any topic), or if you're interested in online happenings about and among women--moms included, though not just moms.

There was a fair amount of rigamarole to get accepted into the BlogHer blog network, and I've been waiting on a decision for seven months, so this is pretty exciting for me. HUGE thanks to Internet wizard and marketing superstar Lori, who kicked off the whole process for me. (Seriously, people, you want Lori in your corner in this world. How did I get so lucky?)

But this isn't the only good news I have coming. Something even bigger and better is on its way. You're still waiting patiently, right?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Officially Begins


Hey, you all. I know I promised some big news soon, and I'm sorry I've leaving you hanging. But sometimes these things take time, and sometimes they even take more time than one expects. So forgive me, and be patient.

In the meantime, it's the last day of school in my town, and it's only a half-day. My first-grader comes home two hours early today, and she comes home a second-grader. First grade was good for us. I'm going to miss it. She had this teacher who was too amazing for words, just the perfect teacher for my daughter in every way. And next fall, when I wait outside at 3:27, Genevieve will be getting off the school bus too. (Afternoon kindergarten, yo.)

But in the meantime, we've got a whole summer ahead of us. I'll tell you more about that next week, our first week of summer vacation. No doubt we'll be lazing around in our pj's until 10 a.m., and going to the pool every time it breaks 70 degrees. So I'll see you on the flip side of the last day of first grade.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

We Made It


So yesterday it happened. Summer came, the right way. After a punishingly long winter, no real spring, and two days in a row of 100 degrees and sky-high humidity, yesterday was gloriously sunny and about 80 degrees, with dry, refreshing air and a lovely breeze. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, which was a clear shade of turquoise. The grass was brilliantly green. The trees were lush with leaves. The flowerbeds all over town were dotted with yellow and pink and red and purple. Our beloved (beloved isn't even a strong enough word, in my family, among my children) CSA farm reopened and we went for the first time since last November. Which seems like a lifetime ago.

The girls and I drove home from the farm yesterday afternoon in the sunshine, the windows down, grins on our faces, cheering and thrilled. "We made it!" Julia said. "We survived the winter! Summer's here! We're back at the farm!" They whooped and yelled and laughed and made up songs about June. We shouted that life is good.

I breathed a big sigh of relief as I drove down 2nd Street past the college. That old Natalie Merchant song popped into my head, do you remember it? These are days you’ll remember/Never before and never since, I promise/Will the whole world be warm as this/And as you feel it/You’ll know it’s true/That you are blessed and lucky.

I seriously hope and pray my girls and I never forget our summers together, driving out to the farm in the sunshine. Winter is hard here. You have to hang onto every warm memory you have, because they're what get you through the coldest, darkest days.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Keep Checking Back.

Good news coming...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Holla!


So you may remember I wrote an essay that got published in the book, above: Torn, True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood. And I talked and talked and talked about it. And did a reading. And a radio interview. (Which you can still hear online, by the way.)

Well, it's a big day, because today Torn hit #1 on Amazon in the Motherhood category, and #338 among ALL THE BOOKS SOLD ON AMAZON.

WOW. Moms like to read about motherhood, you all. I've said it a million times. Now: Have you read it yet? You'd better, or you'll be out of the loop, you know. Get on that!

Bring It! (With Sunscreen)

Yesterday it was 97 degrees here. I went out in the mid-morning with Genevieve to take a stroll around our neighborhood in the bright sun and came home a mile later dripping wet. At which point we collapsed on the living room floor with ice water and didn't move for a long time. Of course, later, the whole family went to the elementary school for an outdoor talent show and picnic dinner. At 5 p.m. In the blazing sun. When it was 97 degrees.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. (Although any rational person would consider it.) I am so happy to see the sun and not be shivering that I'll take what I can get. But remember that I am possibly the palest person in the United States, a blonde Scandinavian with eyes the color of water. When the sun is that strong and hot, even with SPF 85 sunscreen and big shades on, I imagine I can feel my skin sizzling and the cancer cells forming. Truth be told, it's pretty scary. I'm 40 now, and I can clearly imagine getting a skin cancer diagnosis some day. You know it's the deadliest of all cancers, right?

We're going to the pool later today. Grandma and Grandpa helped finance a family pool pass for us this year, and I'm determined to make it pay for itself by spending as much time at the pool as possible. Unfortunately for my skin, my children aren't yet old enough for me to spend my time at the pool lounging on a deck chair under a sun umbrella. I hear that happens eventually, however.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

It Was All a Blur And at Some Point There Was Cake

The night before Julia's birthday, the girls' new beds arrived. I know you don't have a "before," but here's what their bedroom looks like so far, 95% into its renovation:



Still to come are the daisy tulle canopies that will hang from the ceiling over their heads, a second bedside lamp so they can each read in bed as they get older, a new bookcase to replace the one I bought at a flea market when Julia was one and which is literally falling apart, and some things that still need to get put back up on the walls.

Here's another shot that shows one of the two matching miniature chests of drawers in the room, ones my sister and I had when we were my daughters' ages, and that I repainted yellow and white:


I know: nice birthday present, right? Actually I began planning this room's loooong overdue redecoration about six months ago. It took awhile to pull it all together. (And like I said, it's not really completely pulled together quite yet.) And yes, I am broke now, thank you for asking.

As for the rest of the birthday weekend? OMG exhausted. Between all the prep work and company coming for the weekend and the school birthday celebration and the daisy cupcakes and the family b-day dinner and the kid party? And nine little girls (seven guests + my own two) running around in my small house acting crazy and generally just being overly excited and loud? OMG. (Thank God for backyards, that's all I have to say.) And this is just seven years old! Ninety minutes of games and cupcakes in the backyard! How could something so simple be so loud?

This is the last week of school. Summer's at the door. I've got good news coming up about this blog and BlogHer, and hopefully? maybe? good news coming up soon about my book project, and maybe my decrepit body will even heal so I can start running again. (I don't think I'm going to be going back and finishing the 30 Day Shred, which I'm pretty sure is what got me into this mess.) I've got a little writing work again, and I'm trying to be all zen about the pool opening tomorrow, despite the not-running and the related somewhat-flabby.

It's all good--the birthday is over, and summer's here: time to relax! Because mothers get to do that, you know. (KIDDING. So, so kidding.)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Daisy Cupcakes


Someone turns seven today. It boggles the mind.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Fitness Motivation for Busy Moms

I've been thinking a lot lately about what motivates us busy moms to exercise. Partly that's because I'm working on a book about motherhood and self-care (including moms' fitness), and partly it's because, due to a nagging running injury that needs total rest, I've been sidelined from all exercise for nearly two weeks now. Even though I enjoy exercise and truly miss it when I can't be active, I--like every other mom I know--have definitely had my share of slacker periods, when the call of the sofa drowns out the call of my favorite running trail. And what about when this injury heals--will I be able to rally my exercise motivation and get back on the workout track, after weeks of extra "free" time?

Well, just in case you've ever struggled with fitness motivation like me, here's a reminder of all the reasons you (and I!) should embrace physical activity and become (or remain) a mom who exercises:

  • You'll lose the baby--or toddler, or, ahem, preschooler--weight. Exercise can help you get rid of the pounds that have seemingly taken up permanent residence on your frame, despite the fact that you're no longer manufacturing a tiny person inside your body.
  • And then you'll keep it off. Once you do drop those post-pregnancy pounds, you want it to be for good, right? (Or at least until the next pregnancy?) Exercise helps with that. Not only does it burn calories, but it contributes to an overall faster metabolism. What mom wouldn't love that?
  • You'll rock that tank top--or those skinny jeans--in the school pick-up line. OK, it's vain. But why not let vanity be your best motivation to do something great for your health? Whatever works, mamas!
  • It'll make your life easier. Those toned-from-exercise muscles don't just look great, they're also functional. Being fit makes all those things you do as a busy mom--lugging laundry baskets, toting babies on your hip, carrying groceries and diaper bags and infant carseats--a whole lot easier. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to heft the folded-up double stroller into the back of your mini-van without feeling like you need to go lie down for awhile afterwards?
  • Exercise relieves mama stress. Listen, I know it can be hard to get off the sofa and out the door the second you have the opportunity. Generally it seems like staying seated and ingesting chocolate would be the best idea at those moments. But I promise you, getting some exercise will relieve stress much better than eating chocolate on the couch. Because think about it: after you eat the chocolate, then you have one more thing to be stressed about! You know: the fact that you just ate more chocolate! ARGH!
  • It may be the only "me-time" you'll get this week--or any week. When you're a mom, alone time is about as rare as the kids sleeping in on weekends. If you can escape the family for some solitary exercise time, those valuable solo minutes will recharge your batteries and leave you feeling restored. And once you start viewing your workouts as precious me-time, they take on a whole new meaning. You'll start to cherish and look forward to them. When else do you get to spend a full hour without the sound of someone yelling, "Mama, watch this!" ten million times?
  • You'll be around longer to watch those babies grow up. We all know exercise keeps our insides healthy, promotes cardiovascular strength, helps regulate our cholesterol and blood pressure and blood sugar, and even helps prevent some types of cancer. While there are no guarantees, it's a pretty safe bet that regular exercise will serve your health well over the years, giving you a better chance of being around--and around for your kids--for a good long time. Enough said.
Most of us forget these reasons at times, of course, particularly those times that involve subzero temperatures or a crazy schedule or a million "better" things to do with our time. But try to remind yourself of all the reasons to be a fit mama the next time your motivation flags--maybe even re-read this list--and get out there. You won't regret it.